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Experience Esalen without taking a workshop. A Time To Reflect dates available in Feb & March.

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What Can You Do at Esalen?

Hot Springs

Esalen’s cliff-side hot springs have been in ritual and healing use by the Esselen Indians and others for more than 6,000 years.

In 1869, Thomas Slate, suffering from severe arthritis and hearing of unique healing properties to be found in the waters there, visited the hot springs. By the early 1880s, he would homestead the property, and a settlement began, known as Slates Hot Springs. This site became the first tourist-oriented business in Big Sur, frequented by others who sought relief from similar afflictions.

In 1910, the land was purchased by Henry Murphy, a prominent physician from nearby Salinas (who had attended the births of many of the children of the Salinas Valley including John Steinbeck) and his wife Bunny. The Murphys bought the property with the intention of opening a European-style health spa, when the yet-to-be-built Highway 1 was completed. Construction of the road, once started, was an 18-year project. The official business name was “Big Sur Hot Springs,” although it was more generally referred to as "Slate's Hot Springs." Henry Miller was a frequent visitor. Joan Baez was a resident and an aspiring novelist named Hunter S. Thompson a dedicated employee.

The Baths

Coming down the hill you will see the upper level with its outdoor massage deck and “living” roof planted in native coastal grasses. This upper level has its own hot tub equipped with a special lift for handicapped access in addition to a wheelchair-accessible changing room, shower, and bathroom.

The lower level of the baths is entered by descending steps toward a perpetual fountain. The lower level contains restrooms and two sides, a "quiet" and a “silent” side. Each side has a changing room and there is a shower room with a glass wall perched over the ocean. There are several tubs, both indoor and outdoor in the lower level, as well as private, clawfoot tubs. There are massage rooms on both the upper and lower levels. Towels are supplied.

The Ritual

We understand that the springs, and in particular a tradition there of going “clothing optional” can still elicit strong reactions. So some context is in order. Visiting the springs (also known as "the baths" or "the tubs") sans clothing is not mandatory (after all, we wear our dogmas lightly).

But neither are our springs a mere amenity. For those who do choose to soak in the springs–whether in a bathing suit or without, daily or once in a lifetime–the experience embodies much of what continues to make Esalen a singular place of adventure. As a place of stunning beauty, an awe-inspiring respite for mind and body, and a great equalizer, the Baths nourish conversation, contemplation, and community. Their warmth and familiar strangeness prompt us to rethink and reaffirm.

The hot springs serve as a constant reminder that Esalen is not just another retreat; literally and figuratively, the hot springs enable us to savor life on the edge. For more information on the hot springs water and its healing properties, see the hot springs analysis.

Public Night Bathing (1AM-3AM) - By Reservation Only

For information and to reserve a place for night bathing from 1AM-3AM, please click here.

Massage & Bodywork

The Esalen Healing Arts Program

Esalen Massage Crew

No matter where you are in life’s journey, the mind-body-spirit-heart connection is vital to wholeness and wellness, and massage and other healing arts are an integral part of Esalen's transformational process. Our teachers and practitioners support the body’s innate capacity to self-organize and to heal, making Esalen feel revelatory with each visit.

To schedule an Esalen Massage, call 888-837-2536 and choose option 3.

The earliest Esalen Massage sessions were organized by Bernie Gunther and Molly Day Shackman in 1962. Other healing arts were launched by renowned teachers such as Ida Rolf and Charlotte Selver. As a result of our pioneering efforts, acceptance of bodywork in America has become mainstream.

Esalen Massage and other healing arts can be experienced by individual appointment or learned during a workshop or certificate program. 

Daphne Esalen Massage Practitioner at Work near the Upper Baths

What is Esalen® Massage?

Esalen® Massage, well-known for its long flowing strokes over the whole body, helps release the stresses of everyday life, leaving the receiver feeling whole, integrated and deeply relaxed, in a natural state of well-being. The Esalen Massage is best described as the interface and integration of form, energy, structure, and soul. With its nurturing contact, integrating strokes, and detailed attention to the whole body, an Esalen Massage provides a state of deep relaxation and healing. Esalen practitioners are dedicated to connecting deeply with each client and can usually accommodate specific requests and preferences within the Esalen® massage modality. Practitioners combine a full-hearted presence with long, integrating strokes and slow, deep muscle work to release everyday stresses, still the mind, and leave you feeling integrated and deeply relaxed.

Perched on the bluff above the ocean, and nestled beside the healing waters of Esalen’s renowned natural hot springs, our massage and bath area is inspired and influenced by the rhythm of ocean waves and a spectacular and deeply nourishing place to receive a massage.

Book a Massage or Bodywork Session at Esalen

Call us at 1-888-837-2536 or 831-667-3002 to book your massage.

On Property/Guest Massages (for personal retreat or workshop participants)

Massages are available for personal retreat or workshop participants anytime from 7:45 am until as late 8:30 pm. 

Each On Property/Guest massage session costs $125 and lasts for 75 minutes.

Off Property Massage

Even if you’re not staying at Esalen, you can join us for a massage or other bodywork session. Available times for off property massage sessions are as follows:

Mon-Thu & Sat: 11:00 am or 4 pm

Fri & Sun: 11:00 am

Occasionally other times may be available. Please call for availability.

Each Off Property massage session costs $165 and lasts for 75 minutes.

Please note: Only those with a booked session may come on property. Massage and bodywork sessions are non-refundable, non-transferable, and we have a 24-hour cancellation policy. 

Other Bodywork and Healing Arts Modalities

Many of Esalen's practitioners offer different forms of bodywork and healing arts, including Cortical Field Reeducation®, CranioSacral Therapy, LaStone® Therapy, and more. Click here for a glossary of these modalities.

Oliver Bailey Massage Maestro at Work Esalen

Personal Retreat

Extraordinarily Simple

Sometimes all you need to realize your fullest potential is time and space.

A Personal Retreat is a gift of self-care; an opportunity to do as much or as little as you like. They are available in our workshop catalog by advance notice searching the title A Time to Reflect.

Click here to see any current Personal Retreat specials and Time to Reflect dates that may have been added since our catalog was published.

Each day you are free to choose among Esalen’s unique gifts: our natural hot springs, daily movement and meditation classes, weekly evening programs, gourmet meals, and twenty-seven acres of spectacular grounds.

You could…dive into your next creative project or finish a work-in-progress. Meditate for hours in the streamside meditation roundhouse, volunteer in the farm and garden, or bring that stack of books you’ve always wanted to read. Treat yourself to a massage or other healing modality each and every day, or even twice a day.

Or, you could just…let your beingness be.

Nourish your mind, body, heart, and soul by treating yourself to the best of Esalen.

All-Inclusive Esalen Personal Retreat Fees (per person, per night)

Room Type Fri-Sat Sun-Thurs
Standard Shared (2-3 people per room) $220 $165
Premium Single (1 person, guaranteed private accommodation) $475 $450
Premium Double (2 persons; priced per room) $625 $600
Point House Single (1 person, guaranteed private accommodation) $725 $650
Point House Double (2 persons; priced per room) $825 $750
South Point House Annex
(When booking South Point House, you can add this annex for up to 2 people.)
$175 $175
Bunk Bed Shared (4 - 6 persons per room) $140 $130

Schedule Your Personal Retreat

Personal Retreats are generally offered on short notice – 3-5 days in advance – except when announced in our eNews or on our website.

For advanced planning and reservations, please see our Time to Reflect workshops.

Make your Personal Retreat Reservation by calling 888-8-ESALEN (888-837-2536).

Personal Retreat rates are per day and per person unless otherwise noted. Rates include accommodations, three meals per day, breakfast and lunch on departure, and access to all Esalen amenities. They do not include accommodation tax.

Personal Retreat Cancellation Policy:  If you cancel more than seven days before your Personal Retreat, a $75 processing fee will be charged for each cancellation (per person) and the remaining balance will be refunded.

If you cancel with less than 7 days notice, you will forfeit the price of one night's lodging (per person).

Click here for directions to Esalen.

Personal Retreats at Esalen--Description and Prices

Directions to Esalen

Car

Rideshare

If you have a reservation at Esalen and are interested in sharing a ride with someone else driving here from your area, let us know where you're coming from and whether you need a ride or are offering a ride. Then check back with the office from time to time to see who else has signed up to participate. Upon request, we'll provide you with the contact information of other people that you can potentially carpool with who are heading to Esalen on the same day you are.

To be added to the ride share list or to inquire about possible carpool matches, please contact Esalen Reservations at 888-837-2536 between the hours of 9AM and 6PM Pacific Time every day, or email info@esalen.org.

Kindly note that participation in the ride share program is variable. We cannot guarantee a match will be available on the day you intend to travel, and encourage you to plan accordingly.

Van Service

Whether you're flying into one of Esalen's nearby airports or you live locally, using the shuttle service is a great alternative to renting a car or driving your own. You have the choice of relaxing quietly and enjoying the views down coastal Highway 1, or starting a conversation with one of the other participants sharing the ride with you. Either way, you arrive refreshed after the journey and have the satisfaction of knowing you made a sustainable choice.

We have shuttle van service from San Francisco (SFO), San Jose (SJC) and Monterey (MRY) airports. For more information, please click here.

Weather in Big Sur, CA

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